A Plea Some struggle to restrain the storm that broods in every soul-cell. They struggle to quell the looming eruption Or the gut-wrenching whimper that rumbles and hiccups on the crest of unstoppable sobs. Their fear demands, “Just how supreme will this court get?” Others teem with pent up joy released and celebrated. I hear the preacher pray: May we respect one another. May we listen deeply. May we refuse violence of word and body. Respect Listen Refuse. c. Rita H Kowats June 26, 2022
We are wrapped In Rapid-fire thoughts Ejected with rapid-fire words. We leave no wiggle room for being, From whence comes truth. (Even Molly of Denali’s mom Tells her to slooooooow down.) Spirit, Where are you? Have we wound you round so tightly That we’ve stifled your every nudge Nestled in the recesses of our souls? Unbind us. Peel off this tyranny of constant chatter And take us home to that spacious center Where you frolic with abandon. Release our Talking Heads. c. Rita Hemmer Kowats June 11, 2022
My friend Jim wrote this poem in 1987 to tell the story of that year’s Gay Pride Parade in NYC. He was an extroverted mystic, fitting no one’s mold. Jim lived enough years after that to see some progress toward justice, but this was a bleak time. May our tears be for joy this year
Corpus Christi: New York "87" Sunny Sunday in late June. Thousands march. Joyous and free. I joined. Searchers and seekers Walking with dignity and pride. Approaching the Cathedral: A contradiction! Blue barricades, blue flashing lights On cop cars and paddy wagons; Blue shirted police arm to arm Protecting the Cathedral. A Crucifixion? The front steps blocked by A blue Army in blue berets (looking psychotic) Shaking rosaries, thumping Bibles Yelling “Sinners Sinners” as we passed by. “Shame, shame, shame,” we murmured Softly in reply. I looked for Jesus beyond the barricades. Not there! “Thank God,” I said. At 3 o’clock the parade stopped. Silence A city fell silent. Bells tolled. From the Village up Fifth Avenue. Coming closer and closer Passing over us Until the whole sky was filled with Colored balloons. My heart burned within, I remembered all who died of AIDS. Gazing at the heavens, I watched a great loving God Gather balloons, holding them high In God’s bright blue sky Above the blue baracades, blue lights Blue armies & blue shirted cops. My God gathered these children, Sons & daughters into a peace-filled Eternal embrace. I wept. Turning, I saw two older women, Pioneers and witnesses of the movement, Weeping and holding each other as they Too gazed upward. EASTER and ASCENSION. CHRIST HAD COME AGAIN. GLORY TO GOD! Peace to you and me! James L. Becker 1987
Beauty Rises Beauty rises. No matter what. It rises from rich loam and from tomes teeming with dreaming. A sunflower in Donetsk region lifts its face, offering seeds to a waiting lark. One errant seed clinging to a claw drops into the rubble of the besieged city. The seed pushes up through a crack in the rubble. Beauty rises. No matter what. c. Rita Hemmer Kowats June 2, 2022
Today the proverbial last straw is falling on my back and Ive spent a long while staring into space. The way out stretches into two forks on the road to peace: a new version of something I wrote earlier on these pages, and a healing mantra which I’ve prayed a good part of this day. I hope that one of them speaks to you and offers healing.
Earlier Before we escape into more analysis… This time let us sit in silence together And feel our common suffering to the depths Until we know, really know, The place to which we have come. Then let us stand together and act. Mantra Breathing in, I honor this moment. Breathing out, I am at peace. Breathing in, I step into suffering. Breathing out, I release expectation. Breathing in, I step into grief. Breathing out, I release expectation. Breathing in, I know I am loved. Breathing out, I release doubt. Breathing in, I honor this moment. Breathing out. Breathing in. I honor this moment.
Narcissus Narcissus vanished. All that remained was the fragrance of his beauty— constant and sweet, the scent of heliotrope. His task was only to behold himself. Whatever emanated from him he loved back into himself. He no longer drifted in the open wind, but enclosed himself in a narrowing circle and there, in its grip, he extinguished himself. Uncollected Poems from A Year With Rilke: Daily Readings From The Best Of Rainer Maria Rilke
In the Greek myth of Narcissus he falls in love with his own reflection and fades out of existence. Today it feels as though the human species is in danger of fading away, having been gazing too long on our own reflection. Spirituality is about letting go of our fixation on ego and breaking through to divinity. Rilke says of Narcissus, “whatever emanated from him he loved back into himself.” When we love everything back into ourselves the common good suffers. Wars break out. Greed abounds. So, today I offer this practice:
Breathing in I welcome healthy ego.
Breathing out I release self-serving ego.
Breathing in I rest in soul-self.
Breathing out I emanate love.
May it be so.
For Love Of A Blackbird The pastor preaches passionately about Truth Exposing the lies Pilate Spins to the crowd outside. (She could have preached it in another church earlier and called it “Face the Nation.”) In yet another inner sanctum, Cory Booker Exposes the lies spit at another prophet on the docket And the beat goes on, La de da de de. And the beat goes on, La de da de de Meanwhile, on the lush shore of a quarter-mile long lake The crisp and clear one-tone-tune of the mating Red Wing Blackbirds preaches truth to my soul: One true tune can stop a lie in its tracks. Oh, for the love of a blackbird. c. Rita Hemmer Kowats March 27, 2022
Prayer for the Morning With this new day, we open our eyes and we pray: God, inhabit our seeing. Live in our looking. Be our vision and our sight. Illumine us, that we may perceive you, know you, welcome you in all the ways you go hiding in this world. Amen. Jan Richardson In The Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection And Prayer
Some Questions for Reflection Today How do we seek God? Where do we perceive the presence of the holy? How far are we willing to go to find it? What feeds our minds and imaginations in our searching? How does our hunger for God impact our other relationships—with institutions and systems and other people? How do we claim and create our own visionary spaces…? Jan Richardson In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection And Prayer
Winter 2015 I heard the sabers rattling In digital space last night, The same sabers heard in ‘90 and ‘03. The blade smiths deftly forged their words Hard as metal and plunged Them into the furnace of fear Where they shaped and tempered them Into the fine point That is called war. Today I listen for the words Of prophets rising above the din of sabers, Their words clear and clean and true Forged in the furnace of their souls Shaped and honed by a justice Crafted with eyes wide open. I summon the prophet Who lives in the furnace of my own soul: “Come forth!” c. Rita Hemmer Kowats December 2015 Spring 2022 The blade smiths are busy in Ukraine As I grieve for a neighbor who died yesterday. Loved ones draped his coffin with the flag That stood at attention in the alcove of his apartment. They donated his prosthetic legs to the next victims Of the boys in the back room. “Oh, when will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” Today Pete Seeger’s lyrics wafted Over the shower stall at the YMCA And froze me on the battlefield of Ukraine. Joining in on the next verse I felt that prophet In the furnace of my soul Rising Resolving Replacing complacence with justice. We sang the whole song, Strangers standing together at last In the hushed silence of truth laid bare. c. Rita Hemmer Kowats March 14, 2022
This morning after I swam with my 60’s generation peers I heard this in the next shower, ”Oh, when will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” I joined in singing to the last verse. I cried. She said she couldn’t get it out if her head today and I responded ironically , ”I wonder why.” “What a fire in the belly (Marge Piercy)” this experience was for me. May we learn soon.
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago? Where have all the flowers gone? Young girls have picked them everyone Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn? Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing? Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago? Where have all the young girls gone? Gone for husbands everyone Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn? Where have all the husbands gone, long time passing? Where have all the husbands gone, long time ago? Where have all the husbands gone? Gone for soldiers everyone Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn? Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing? Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago? Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, everyone Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn? Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing? Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago? Where have all the graveyards gone? Gone to flowers everyone Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn? The 1955 song by Pete Seeger, who died on Jan 28, 2014. He was 94 years old. This is one of the most familiar American folk songs.